Eastbound & Down
Eastbound & Down, Archer, and Delocated: What do these three comedies have in common? They all feature deluded white male egomaniacs as their protagonists; their boobish self-confidence and crassness are the primary sources of the shows’ ribald humor. All three are in their third seasons and traffic in what I’d call “extreme comedy,” willing to risk alienating a mass audience in favor of a devoted cult.
In Eastbound, Danny McBride’s boorish baseball pitcher Kenny Powers has relocated to Myrtle Beach, S.C.; he now swaggers both on the mound and on the beach. He’s got a new best friend, his catcher Shane (played by SNL‘s Jason Sudeikis), who has a genial belligerence that suits Kenny just fine.
Rude, crude, and middle-aged crazy, Kenny is busy this season trying to avoid parenting his newborn son; he recently told his new college-age girlfriend, “I’d much rather be doing cocaine and watching the Saw movies on DVD with you in your dorm room.” What makes Powers such a fine creation is the way McBride-as-Kenny periodically registers an awareness of what a screwup he is, and how mightily he strives to maintain his air of lordly selfishness.
On Archer, the arrogant, thickheaded superspy voiced by H. Jon Benjamin puts the moves on any curvy woman he encounters. His mom, voiced by Jessica Walter, is in a new relationship with Burt Reynolds (for animated real), thus providing another rich source of ridicule from her son (lots of Gator jokes). The blocky, stiff animation works in the favor of this Adam Reed-created series — it’s like a lewd, wilier version of a cheesy ’60s spy show such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Delocated features creator-star Jon Glaser as Jon, a Witness Protection enrollee. He always wears a black ski mask and uses a vocal pitch shifter. We follow Jon through the lens of a documentary crew shadowing him. Part of the humor is visual: Jon wears that mask while showering, swimming, or having sex; no one ever acknowledges how odd it looks. The show thrives on non sequiturs — Jon’s random passion for potato skins can become a major plot point, and then disappear.
Like Kenny Powers, Jon is a father — his teen son is forever embarrassed by his single dad’s frank sex talk and actions. (The kid has to wear what Jon calls “bone phones” to block out the noise when Dad brings a girl to their loft.)
How can these offensive men remain so watchable? They’re all self-assured goofballs who are regularly punished for their hubris. The message of this trio of shows is reassuring: A-holes — they’re just like us! Eastbound & Down: A- Archer: A- Delocated: A-